What I Would Have Done Differently: A Third Year’s Exploration of the Top 3 Things I Wish I Knew

When you start out at UC Davis, the experience is new, no matter who you are. Whether you are a first year fresh from high school near or far, a transfer student, or a returning student that took some time off, getting acclimated is a hardship that everybody struggles with. Now, for some, the period of hesitation before fully diving into what college has to offer can be a little on the longer side. That’s OK!! Getting your footing is not something to push too quickly. Take your time, and follow these quick tips for the best transition into the life of an Aggie.

When I came to UC Davis as a freshman, I did not have any real role models for help when it came to applications, choosing classes, choosing a major, choosing roommates, etc. It was all new to me. My mother went to university in Spain where she is from, and my father received his degree so long ago that everything has changed too rapidly to get a grip on it. As the first of my siblings to give college a go, I was spearheading my own entrance in the college life. As a third year and a new Peer Advisor in the College of Biological Sciences, I am still constantly learning new things about what it means to be here, so I felt it best to use this platform to tell you a few things I wish I had known/done from the beginning.’

First: It is NEVER too early to make an academic plan.

Now, you may be thinking, what is an academic plan and how/where do I make one? And let me tell you, you are not alone. So much information is relayed during orientation, that it is almost impossible to catch it all. So, here is what you do.

Open your Oasis file at oasis.ucdavis.edu and sign in with your Kerberos ID and passphrase.

In another tab open up your specific College’s Majors page and find your major’s requirement list. (hint: another way to do this is by using the catalog.ucdavis.edu resource which allows you to select “Degrees and Programs” on the lower left of the home screen. Scroll to your Major by alphabet and boom! There you have it.
Use this as your guide for choosing classes, and always make an appointment with a Major Advisor or come see a Peer Advisor in your College office if you have questions

On Oasis, hit the “Forms and Petitions” tab in the top bar of your Oasis File

Once here, hit the blue “Submit a New Form” button on the right and scroll to the “Academic Plan” option from the list of options.




Now, you will have a blank canvas for you to input all of your major required courses, minor courses, GE’s etc, so that you can efficiently plan out your time. No more going into Pass Times blind! Just type in a course code and off you go!
*Don’t forget to save it when you are done so you can go back later!



Ok now for the Second Tip: It is never too early to consider doing a Minor.

Something that I wish I had known early on, was that minors usually require around 20-25 upper division units for completion. This is super do-able! If you find something outside of your major, say a language or music, or another interest that you discover while at Davis, consider a minor! Take a look back at the catalog or at UC Davis’s Master List of Minors for more information (link: https://www.ucdavis.edu/minors )

If you find something you like, plan out the required classes in your Oasis plan! Often times, minors can fulfill some or most of your required GE credit as well so talk to a major advisor and consider your options!
Finally, we reach Top Tip #3: Go to the Involvement Fairs, Dorm Floor Dinners, and get involved with your Peers!

Often times, acclimating to a new environment is best accomplished through finding people with common interests. Find out what is available. Our campus has hundreds of student-run and community-sponsored organizations to be a part of.

Whether it is associated with your major, cultural identification, hobbies, minor, or something you have never thought about being involved in before, being a part of a club or other social system is always a good route to take.

Get to know your neighbors! When moving into the dorms or a new apartment, when starting a new quarter/class, or when signing up for a new club, meet the people around you. Making connections to other students and faculty is a major force in making UC Davis home.

To wrap this up, if you have kept with me to this point, I want to say that you can do it! Starting at a new university is difficult for so many people and for a variety of different reasons. Share your experiences with friends, family, other students, your neighbors, advisors, you name it!

Here at UC Davis, we are always looking to offer you as much as we can in order to make this the best campus possible for everyone. Let us help light the way for your most successful college experience!

Sandra McAteer
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major


Making a Four-Year Plan

Pass 1 for Winter 2016 is coming up. Some of you may already have a beautiful schedule lined up and some of you may still be frantically searching for classes to take, feeling lost and anxious. Whichever individual you are at the moment, you should seriously consider making a rough four-year plan or revising one you already have. Creating a four-year plan can seem daunting, time consuming, and unnecessary; however, in the long run your academic life will be much easier with a pre-planned schedule. Think about all those pass times that you won’t have to stress over! For many of you, creating a four-year plan may mean making life defining decisions such as: Should I go to Medical School? Will I be taking a gap year before work? Do I want to change my major? Am I finally going to minor in Spanish like I said I would?  Our recommendation is: make a plan now and don’t be afraid to change it along the way! Here are some simple steps to get started.


  • FRUSTRATEDKIDTalk to An Adviser (Or Multiple) 

Not sure where to begin when planning your future? When in doubt, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your major adviser or come by during drop-in hours  to see a peer adviser. Trained professionals are available to give you the know how’s and the what’s ups to making an academic plan.

What about Double Majoring?

Finishing a double major at UC Davis requires tactful and strategic arranging of classes and definitely, lots of planning. When making a plan be sure to visit the advisers of both majors you intend to finish.

Thinking About Minoring?

Finishing one minor or even multiple minors is a great way to broaden your academic experience. Most minors require roughly 20 units; it’s also important to check for prerequisites and other minute details. For more information, talk to an adviser for the college or department you plan on minoring in.

Planning on Going to Professional School?NorthHall-Large

For many of you, applying to college won’t be the last time you needed to write a personal statement; find teachers for letters of recommendations; take a standardized exam; and ensure you fulfill all the prerequisites for your future dream school. This is where a four-year plan can really help you reach your professional dreams and make sure you fulfill all prerequisites, GE’s, and university/major requirements before you graduate. Applying to professional school is indeed difficult, but thankfully there are trained advisers available to guide you through the application process. Visit UC Davis’ Pre-Graduate/Professional Advising in 111 South Hall or go to 1011 SLB to talk to a Pre-Health Professions Adviser \

  • Make a List of Prospective Classes  

So, you’ve already seen your major adviser and you’re on track to graduate–Great! The next thing to do is incorporate interesting and/or relevant classes into your four-year plan. Exploring the General Catalog is a great place to begin, as it contains all the major/minor requirements, a list of all the GE’s offered on campus. Tip: The letters and numerals you see here:  QL, SE, SL, VL.—I, II, III. (I, II, III.) These tell you what GE’s the class fulfills and also the quarter that class is offered. (I. means fall, II. means winter, and III. means spring)                                                               You can also narrow down your search using Schedule Builder’s Advanced Options. Extra Tip: Jot these classes down into a planner or into your computer so you can access them later.


  • Sit Down and Actually Make a Plan planning baby

So, you’ve more or less decided on a career and have compiled a list of interesting classes–you’re ready to start planning! Be sure to allocate a time block of a few hours to sit down infront of a computer and churn out a four-year plan. Many students like to use Excel but we also recommend using Oasis‘s Academic Plan form.    Such a form can be found under the Forms and Petitions Tab on Oasis. When plugging and chugging the classes you want to take, be sure to consider a few things…

Fulfill Prerequisites:

Most upper-division major requirements have prerequisite classes, and it is important to make sure you’ve filled in all your prerequisite courses before putting in your major classes. Not having the right prerequisites could result in being dropped from the class or being unprepared for the course, so be sure to take a look in the General Catalog or on Schedule Builder for specific details.

Consider SS1 or SS2: 

UC Davis offers a large majority of major classes during the summer, and students tend to perform better in classes taken during the summer time. Instead of spreading yourself thin with multiple classes, you can focus all your efforts on one class! If you want to get ahead of your schedule or take a load off of your normal academic quarter, definitely plan on taking a class or two in the summer. It’s important to plan ahead so that you can talk to the Financial Aid Office regarding your financial needs or make vacation plans with friends and family.

Make Time for Studying Abroad: abroad

Did you know students can take BIS 101 in Europe every summer? This is just one example of the many classes and places students can explore with the Study Abroad Program. Studying abroad is usually the experience of a lifetime, but there may be a lot of hoops to jump through before actually going abroad. That is why it is important to have a plan, so you have time to prepare documents and figure out living expenses.

Whether or not you’ve decided on a future career, it never hurts to make a four-year plan and then change it as life goes forward. Life happens and your plans may be uncertain; however, a four-year plan may elucidate certain fuzzy details about the future, and set you on the right track to success!

Happy Planning!

Melissa Li                                                                                                                         Class of 2016  Biological Sciences, Emphasis in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior                                                Biology Academic Success–Peer Adviser

Minors: Why Are They Important?

You meet someone new  on campus, you join a new club, you go home for the holidays to spend time with family; and the ever so popular  question continues to arise: “So, what’s your major?.” It never occurs to anyone to ask you about your minor does it? Not initially at least. It is logical for a major to be regarded more important than a minor, but minors also carry a high degree of importance. Minors can prove beneficial in many ways and it is necessary to highlight these benefits.

1. A minor can balance out your schedule:
A minor is a great way to balance out a schedule. For example, students within our college have to take many rigorous science courses which can be quite stressing. By pursing a minor in another subject area, let’s say a Social Science, classes completed for the minor can be great neutralizers for the heavy science courses required for a College of Biological Sciences (CBS) major.  A minor is especially beneficial during the last few quarters before graduating when all a CBS student has left to complete are upper division courses. Minor courses can help spread out the last upper division courses so the student does not feel compelled to squeeze them all in within a few quarters.

A minor can benefit as a major course neutralizer in any major, however, this does not apply only to the College of Biological Sciences. Any major at UC Davis can seem congested with tough courses, not to say that minor courses are a breeze, but minor courses do bring a pleasant change to a person’s schedule.

2. You can minor within our college! :
I am sure you are aware that students in the College of Biological Sciences cannot double major within the college. The reason for this is because there would be more than a 20% upper division course overlap within the majors in this college. Luckily, the majority of our majors do offer minors, which are open for CBS students to complete (as long as there is no more than one upper division course overlap between the student’s major and minor). If you are an enthusiastic student who is vastly interested in the sciences and would not mind adding additional science courses to your schedule then this is a great opportunity to gain knowledge within another area of the sciences.

The same applies to students in other colleges: if you are from another college and are interested in learning about a certain subject within our college but do not want to double major, a minor within CBS can supply a significant breadth of knowledge without having to complete a whole other major.

3. Knock out some GEs while you are at it:
Let us get to talking about credit! Yes sure, completing a minor will give you knowledge of a new subject but what other benefits does completing a minor bring? GE credit! Often times, students choose a minor in which the courses will satisfy components of the GE requirements which are not already satisfied by his or her major. This way, students can knock out GEs and a minor all at once. Why not complete a minor, receive recognition for completing these certain courses on your diploma, and not have to take extra GE courses on top of it all? Sounds like a great deal to me.

Apart from simply fulfilling the graduation requirement, students use GE courses in order to explore different subject areas. If you are not sure if you are interested in a minor just yet, I encourage you to explore a few classes that call your attention.

4. It can show that a student is well-rounded:
How will a minor benefit me after I graduate, you ask? Well, a minor can help show that you are a well rounded student. Whether you choose to continue a post-undergraduate degree or begin a career after you graduate, presenting a minor aside from your completed major will be a positive advantage. A minor can show, for instance, that you are able to excel in the area of Genetics and equally as well in English. Your minor will be listed in your diploma and transcript and why not include it in your resume? In fact, you should.

5. A minor can make you a more competitive candidate:
Tagging on to the previous point, a well rounded applicant is a more competitive applicant. Especially when a major and a minor complement each other. If you plan ahead and choose a minor with a certain career path in mind, then you can potentially be a more favorable candidate. An example of an effective major/minor coupling can be a Biology major with an Education minor with a Teaching career in mind.

Although minors are at times overlooked, they are important and can make a significant difference in defining you as a well rounded student, individual, or applicant. If you are now considering a minor, check out the list of minors offered here at UC Davis.

One last bit of information: Declaring a minor

Declaring a minor requires you to fill out and turn in a Minor Declaration Form to your current college. It is important to meet with the minor adviser to discuss your class choices before submitting this form. Keep in mind that the deadline to declare a minor is not until the quarter before you graduate so there is no rush. There is ample time to explore courses before committing to any minor.

Take the time to explore your options, you never know what you may find. Good luck!

Alejandra Villa
Third year, Biological Sciences
BASC Peer Adviser